Jujuy province

The beautiful province of Jujuy lives slightly under wealthier Salta's shadow, but it has some of the richest culture of the whole country, thanks to its large population of indigenous peoples, or what most Argentines refer to as ' los indios'. Absorb the lively street life in Jujuy City, take part in a Pachamama(Mother Earth) ceremony, or witness the vibrant festival in remotest Casabindo, and you'll feel the palpable energy of the authentic Andean culture which has survived over 300 years of colonial rule. So while Jujuy is less developed in tourist infrastructure, it's definitely worth making the effort to explore, and as tourism brings more income to the region, bus services and hotels are opening up fast in response.

Jujuy's great attraction is the Quebrada de Humahuaca, made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003 for its spectacular beauty. Easter and Carnival are celebrated here in exuberant style, which combines Christian traditions with the pre-existing Andean religious beliefs. Dotted along the Quebrada there are pleasant towns to hang out for a few days for walking and exploring. Purmamarcaand Humahuaca are most appealing: famous for the Cerro de Siete Colores, there are now some fine hotels, walks to the stratified rocks of seven colours, and a dramatic drive up to the salt flats. Tilcara is probably the best base for exploring the area, with lots of good accommodation, a lively market, a museum and the Pucará, the ruined hilltop town. From here the adventurous could trek west into the subtropical cloudforest park of Calilegua, or into the stunning Garganta del Diablo.

The Quebrada villages all have characteristic squat white adobe churches, but Uquía's is the most impressive, with an extraordinary collection of Cuzqueño school paintings. Further north, Humahuaca is popular and friendly, and you can take the bus from here to the exquisite remote hamlet of Iruya, just over the border into Salta. At the northernmost end of the Quebrada, off the road to Bolivia, the church in the village of Yavi is the country's most exquisite colonial treasure, its gold decoration seen in the lemony light from onyx windows. And east from here, there's the stunningly located village of Nazareno (Salta).

East and west of the province are two contrasting landscapes: in Jujuy's expanse of punain the west, you'll find fascinating small villages of Susques and Casabindo, famous for its bullfight in August. There are old Jesuit gold mines and Laguna de los Pozuelos with its wealth of birdlife. To the east, find cloudforest in Calilegua National Park, accessible from Libertador General San Martín. For more information on travelling in and around Jujuy, see www.norteargentino.gov.ar (in English).

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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